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Small victories, large defeats.

Updated: 2017-09-25T07:30:02-04:00


A potential option for the Phillies bullpen in 2018


Might be time to go outside of the organization to start adding to the beleaguered ‘pen Earlier this year, I wrote about how the bullpen options might shake out heading into the next season. As a team, they have mostly relied on internal options, save the minor league signing here, the one year deal there. However, in that piece, I presented several options to add as a closer for the team, which might then shift Hector Neris back in a setup role, causing a domino effect for the rest of the options beyond the centerfield fence. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about the pitching staff. While I think we can all agree that the rotation is the part that deserves the most attention, the bullpen also will need a tweak or two for us to truly feel better about it. Here, I want to look at a player who might not be a popular name now, but will surely become so once the offseason starts in earnest following the World Series. Shoulder surgeries are hard to come back from. Ask Mike Minor. Once one of the more heralded pitching prospects in the Atlanta Braves organization, Minor was going places. He was drafted seventh overall in the 2009 draft, then made his major league debut the following season. After beginning to establish himself as a part of the rotation in 2011, Minor then became a mainstay for Atlanta in 2012, throwing 179.1 innings of ever-so-slightly below average baseball (97 ERA+). The following season, 2013, was his breakout: 204.2 IP, 32 GS, 22.1 K%, 5.6 BB%, 3.1 bWAR. He looked like he would be a mainstay forever in Atlanta. Then the injuries started. He pitched most of 2014 with a sore shoulder and his results reflected as much. Everything got worse: strikeouts were down, walks were up, runs allowed were up. It wasn’t pretty, especially when it is that joint that is troublesome. In spring training of 2015, Minor began having shoulder issues that would eventually lead to surgery for a torn labrum. He missed all of that season, and wouldn’t throw a major league pitch in 2016 either as he recovered from the surgery. At that point, he had signed with Royals, who gave him a two year deal, knowing that the first would be a wash since he was still getting into pitching shape. This year, he has come back with a vengeance. Since he has shifted into the bullpen, Minor has been electric. Take a look at his stats this year (through Saturday): 74 IP, 84:21 K:BB, 28.6 K%, 7.1 BB%, 42.9 GB%, Since he converted this season to the bullpen, he has transformed himself into a pretty darn good reliever. This piece was written not long ago by Stephen Loftus of Fangraphs about this transformation and how he has been able to be so effective. The article is very interesting in that it points out how Minor’s fastball has come back better than before, gaining 3 miles per hour from the last time he pitched in the big leagues. This is a big deal because you would, not expect someone with shoulder surgery to regain all of his fastball and then some. Loftus also points out how good Minor’s slider has been, generating more whiffs than he previously did. All in all, it’s a good read about how Minor has been able to become one of the better relievers in the game. Adding an arm like Minor would be a seemingly cost effective way of improving that area of the roster. He hasn’t been a reliever long enough, let alone this good, to command Andrew Miller-type money on the market. Even though most teams are realizing how important a strong bullpen can be (especially those with World Series aspirations), Minor will probably not command money that would price him out of the Phillies range. However, there is an issue with adding him: he technically won’t be a free agent unless the Royals decide they want him to be. See, the Royals hold a $10 million option on that left arm. They may not want to bring him back at that price, but with several of their core players set to become free agents, they will have the money available to do so. Yet those impending free agents also could work in reliever’s favor if he wishes to explore the m[...]

Phillies to make a “big splash” this winter?


On Episode 152 of The Felske Files, host John Stolnis is joined by former Phillies beat writer Meghan Montemurro to talk about the team’s plans for this off-season. Episode 152 of The Felske Files is brought to you by Anthony Arot and The Nash Wealth Management Group! Check them out here! The Phillies have a lot of decisions to make this winter. They need to figure out the starting infield. They need to add starting pitching. They need to add a bullpen piece or two. And they need to decide if they are going to make any trades that could drastically alter the look of the franchise. And if you listen to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Phils could be getting ready to make a “big splash” this off-season. In the video, Rosenthal called the Phillies a “team to watch” this off-season, noting they could be active in a number of different ways. He noted the team will be active in the starting pitching market, specifically mentioning the Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb as a good fit. It’s “no secret” they’re interested in Miami outfielders Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton The impressive debut of J.P. Crawford means the Phillies could look to deal free-agent-to-be Freddy Galvis somewhere else The team has prospects and resources and could “ready to make a splash, or splashes,” this winter. Given the production the Phils have gotten from their current outfield trio of Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams, does it make sense for the Phillies to go after Yelich/Stanton? Would Cobb be a good enough pitcher to add to the rotation? Should they be hunting in the Jake Arrieta/Yu Darvish area of the store? What are they going to do with their middle infielders? It seems impossible they’d be able to keep everybody and find enough playing time for the young players. Joining the Felske Files as co-host this week is former Phillies beat writer Meghan Montemurro, who provides her insight into Rosenthal’s comments, and warns that she doesn’t think the Phils will be making these “big splashes” that Rosenthal mentions. width="100%" height="400" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=""> In other words, don’t expect the team to do any cannon balls into the free agent waters this winter, guys. ADVERTISE WITH THE FELSKE FILES! Email John Stolnis at for rates. I have rates to match every budget! PLEASE VISIT THE FELSKE FILES TEEPUBLIC.COM STORE, the BEST collection of Phillies T-shirts anywhere on the interworld! Click right here for phenomenal T-shirts and other apparel! PLEASE CLICK HERE for the official Felske Files iTunes feed. Also please rate the show (5 stars, obviously!) and leave a review. Not only do we love to hear your feedback, but this also helps other Phillies fans find the show. In addition to my work here at The Good Phight, check out my work at Follow this podcast on Twitter: @FelskeFiles. Follow the Felske Files on SoundCloud. Check out the brand new Felske Files Facebook page, and please LIKE the page!!! Rate The Felske Files on Stitcher. Follow the Felske Files on Instagram! [...]

Game Thread 9/24: Phillies at Braves



Smell ya later, Braves.

Baseball is a funny game. The Phillies nearly swept the Dodgers, who could conceivably win the World Series this year, and just a few days later they’re about to get swept by the Braves, a team that sucks.

Baseball is funny. And stupid. But mostly funny.

Today's Lineups

Cesar Hernandez - 2B Ender Inciarte - CF
Aaron Altherr - CF Johan Camargo - 2B
Nick Williams - RF Freddie Freeman - 1B
Rhys Hoskins - LF Nick Markakis - RF
Tommy Joseph - 1B Kurt Suzuki - C
Maikel Franco - 3B Rio Ruiz - 3B
J.P. Crawford - SS Dansby Swanson - SS
Jorge Alfaro - C Jace Peterson - LF
Nick Pivetta - RHP Luiz Gohara - LHP

Well, at least J.P. Crawford is at shortstop today. Shame it rarely every happens when Rhys Hoskins is at first. Or when everyone else is where they’re supposed to be.

Whatever. Just don’t lose to the Braves today, guys! Please? I don’t want to end the year getting swept by them, that’s so depressing.

Discuss the game in the comments below.

The Luis Garcia Experience: Braves 4, Phillies 2




The title of this recap isn’t entirely fair to Luis Garcia. He’s appeared in 63 games this season, and including tonight’s game, he’s allowed multiple runs in just five of them. Unfortunately, that means that he allowed multiple runs in tonight’s game, and there just wasn’t room for that. The Phillies lost 4-2 to the Braves, and it sucked.

There just isn’t anyone else on the pitching staff to pin the loss on. Henderson Alvarez went five innings and gave up no runs, and while Kevin Siegrist allowed a homer, that didn’t lose the game. Garcia gave up three runs in the eighth, and with just three more outs left for the Phillies to play with, they just couldn’t come back.

Of course, when the Phillies are on the losing end of a 4-2 score, it’s hugely unfair to place the balance of the loss on the pitching staff. The offense just couldn’t get much across the plate against Julio Teheran. One run scored on a Rhys Hoskins double, and the other scored on a passed ball — all credit goes to Maikel Franco on that one, he saw his chance and took it.

There isn’t much more to say than that. The Phillies had a small lead but lost it late, and if they’d scored more runs they wouldn’t have.

The Phillies have just one more game to play against the Braves in 2017. They need to win, because getting swept by the Braves is just unacceptable.

Game Thread 9/23: Phillies at Braves



Wash your mouth out with some Hendu Alvarez soap

The Phillies, for once, did not beat the Braves last night. They’re now a mediocre 12-5 against their division rival this season. In order to correct this, the Phils will once again bat Freddy Galvis second and Rhys Hoskins - who hasn’t homered in NINE DAYS MY GOD - fourth. Henderson Alvarez will get the start, opposing Atlanta’s Julio Teheran, who used to be good but is now morbidly ineffective pitching at home.

Today's Lineups

Odubel Herrera - CF Ender Inciarte - CF
Freddy Galvis - SS Ozzie Albies - 2B
Nick Williams - RF Nick Markakis - RF
Rhys Hoskins - 1B Tyler Flowers - C
Aaron Altherr - LF Matt Adams - 1B
Maikel Franco - 3B Dansby Swanson - SS
J.P. Crawford - 2B Rio Ruiz - 3B
Cameron Rupp - C Jace Peterson - LF
Henderson Alvarez - RHP Julio Teheran - RHP

Happy September 23rd. Enjoy it; you only get one of these a year.

Patience is a Virtue: Braves 7, Phillies 2



Seersucker is a fabric

Aside from the first five Braves batters tonight went alright for the Phillies. As the Phillies play out the string on another rebuilding year it doesn’t much matter the outcome of the games, and so we won’t dwell on the fact that the aforementioned first five Braves batters went double, single, double, single, home run, spotting themselves to a 5-0 lead from which they would never look back. Also around that time this occurred:

Game Thread 9/22: Phillies at Braves



Let’s start this so we can end this.

The Phillies are wrapping up their season, but that means one last trip through the NL East. This weekend we’ve got the Atlanta Braves, bearf.

I mean, it has to be done. The Phillies have to play them. And you know what? I want the Phillies to win. Make the Braves’ decision about whether or not to fire Bryan Snitker even harder. I don’t care about the draft pick anymore, I wanna see this young teams get some wins under their belt.

Today's Lineups

Cesar Hernandez - 2B Ender Inciarte - CF
Freddy Galvis - SS Ozzie Albies - 2B
Nick Williams - RF Freddie Freeman - 1B
Rhys Hoskins - 1B Nick Markakis - RF
Aaron Altherr - LF Kurt Suzuki - C
Odubel Herrera - CF Johan Camargo - 3B
Jorge Alfaro - C Lane Adams - LF
J.P. Crawford - 3B Dansby Swanson - SS
Ben Lively - RHP Sean Newcomb - LHP


Yup, Pete Mackanin is willingly batting a guy with a .306 OBP second in the order. I don’t even know what to say anymore. Someone pass the grain alcohol.

Discuss the game in the comments below.

Race to the Bottom update: Phillies are losing ground


After a hot stretch, the Phillies are now in second place in the Race to the Bottom and could fall as far as fourth (or even further) by year’s end. There was a time about a month ago, when it seemed like the most exciting part of the run-out of the season for the Phillies would be watching where the team would fall in the standings. In mid-August, the Phillies had a somewhat comfortable 2.5 game lead for the worst record in baseball. By early September, that lead had narrowed to just a one-game lead. Sounds exciting, right? After all, a lot is at stake. With the worst record in baseball, the Phillies would get the #1 draft pick next year. With the fourth or fifth, they’d have to wait for several other teams to draft. If you’re not watching the wild-card standings, then these “standings” seemed like a good substitute. But, that was in August and early September. Now, things are looking a little different for the Phillies. They just won 3 out of 4 from the best-record-in-baseball Dodgers, and came really close to sweeping them. Rhys Hoskins has brought record-breaking power numbers to the team, but other youngsters are stepping up as well — J.P. Crawford, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro are providing an offensive spark to complement seemingly-veteran youngsters Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco. We are watching the offense of the future, and it’s been the most fun that we Phillies fans have had in years. So we can safely forget about the Race to the Bottom, right? Well, maybe it’s no longer at the front of our mind, but it still matters. The Phillies’ timeline for being competitive still looks more like 2019 or 2020 than 2018, so stockpiling talent is important. And, with the only current MLB pitcher producing the same level of excitement as the hitters listed above being Aaron Nola, a high-first-round pick who made it to the majors just over a year after he was drafted, there is possibly a need for a top-notch pitching prospect who can come to the majors quickly and dominate, as Nola has shown flashes of doing. (I’ll leave it to my prospect-guru colleagues to fill in whether such a creature looks like he exists for next year’s draft.) Which means we have to pay attention to the Race to the Bottom still. If you’ve been doing that amidst the Phillies’ winning, you’ll have noticed that the team is “slipping” in the standings, both because of the Phils’ success but also because other teams have been faltering in big ways. Here’s where things stand with the six worst teams in baseball and only 9 or 10 games remaining: The column that best explains what’s going on here is the last one. The Phillies are 7-3 over the past 10 games while all of the other teams are .500 at best. The two worst teams over the last 10 games, the Tigers and Mets, weren’t really in the conversation a few weeks ago, but their 2-8 record for the past 10 games has put them near the Phils. In particular, the Tigers are just 1 game behind the Phillies. So let’s look at what’s left for the four teams at the “top” of this chart: Giants: Dodgers (3), Diamondbacks (3), Padres (3). Phillies: Braves (3), Nationals (3), Mets (3). White Sox: Royals (3), Angels (4), Indians (3). Tigers: Twins (3), Royals (3), Twins (3). As I’ve been saying since I started looking at this, the Phillies have the worst schedule for the Race to the Bottom. They play two teams with terrible records — the Braves and Mets. The Giants are the only other team to play a bottom-feeder team (against the Padres), but they also play two of the best teams in the NL in their other 6 games. The Tigers play two teams that are hovering around .500, and the White Sox play two teams hovering around .500 but then the hottest-team-in-baseball Indians as well. In other words, the Giants, White Sox, and Tigers have much tougher[...]